- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 17, 2006

MALI

France’s Sarkozy gets cool welcome

BAMAKO — French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy received a chilly welcome here yesterday because of his proposed legislation restricting immigration, approved by France’s National Assembly the day he arrived.

The bill — which favors skilled workers, limits family reunification and eliminates automatic citizenship for long-term foreign residents — also has caused consternation in Benin, the next stop on Mr. Sarkozy’s West Africa trip.

The two former French colonies are both fonts of legal and illegal migration to France.

SPAIN

African states urged to stop refugee rush

MADRID —The Spanish government has sent a written plea to the presidents of Senegal, Mali and Guinea-Bissau for help ending the migration crisis in the Canary Islands, a diplomatic source said yesterday.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero signed the letters, and Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos personally handed them to Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, Malian counterpart Amadou Toumani Toure and Guinea Bissau’s Joao Bernardo Vieira in Paris Tuesday, the source said.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais said Mr. Zapatero called on the leaders to accept repatriation of their compatriots, who make up most of about 1,400 illegal aliens crammed in makeshift shelters on the Canary Islands.

CONGO

Lithuanian officers join EU election watch

VILNIUS — Lithuanian military officers will take part in a force dispatched by the European Union to help police elections in Congo, Lithuanian Defense Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said yesterday.

“We shall send two officers to the operations’ European headquarters in Potsdam, but no Lithuanian troops will go to [Congo] itself,” Mr. Kirkilas told Agence France-Presse. The total EU force will number about 1,500 soldiers, including 850 from France and 500 from Germany.

Poland said earlier it will send 115 soldiers to Kinshasa to serve in the force, which will support the 17,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo.

Weekly notes …

Nigerians hailed a “triumph of democracy” yesterday after President Olusegun Obasanjo failed in his attempt to rewrite the constitution to stay in power, the London Telegraph reports. Nigeria’s Senate threw out a package of amendments, one of which would have let Mr. Obasanjo, 69, run for re-election. Instead, the president must step down next year at the end of his second four-year term. … A former senior Zimbabwean judge who fled to Britain after a graft conviction this year has been denied asylum by London but found refuge in New Zealand, the Herald newspaper there reported yesterday. The U.N. Commission on Human Rights is thought to have facilitated Benjamin Paradza’s move to New Zealand from South Africa, where he had been hiding,” the paper said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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